Rated R, 97 min. Directed by Alan White. Starring Heather Graham, Jeremy Sisto, Jake Busey, Michael A. Goorjian, Linda Hamilton, Mark Sheppard, Jessica Stroup.
Broken is the indie-film version of the sad, black, backward glance tossed your way by that midnight stranger whose name you'll never know in Edward Hopper's Nighthawks diner. Keep walking, and glance back: This is Hopper's world skewed through the lens of real-world Los Angeles, and nobody in this diner is having much of a night or even much of a life. Hope (Graham) is the graveyard-shift waitress at White's Hopperian purgatory, and over the course of Broken, we learn, in fits and starts, how this would've been, could've been singer-songwriter ended up "working some sorry dead-end job and wondering what happened," as one of her customers (Sheppard) says. Similarly obvious remarks emanate from other diner patrons, including a writer/director combo who try to lasso Hope into their project with the pitch, "It's about a girl who meets a guy, who turns out maybe not to be who she thought he was." For the record, both the "What happened to my life?" and the "Who the hell is this guy?" metaphors are literalized here by the thoroughly broken Will, Hope's junkie freakout of an ex. As played by Six Feet Under's Sisto, there is never any other way out than, well, six feet under. In flashback, we see the doomed couple's first meeting on an achingly gorgeous California beachscape. He asks her for a cigarette, then a light, and then, scavenger of hope that this character so clearly is, he eats her up, dreams and all. Graham and Sisto are great in their roles – surely no other contemporary actor does that certain type of makes-you-wanna-take-a-scalding-hot-shower-crazy like Sisto – and the various predawn denizens of Hope's post-Will attempt to get her life back on track are brief but very smartly drawn microcharacterizations. In the end, Broken has little of any great substance to add to the old truism that L.A. eats its young (especially those who just got off the bus from Ohio) and then picks its teeth with their hopes and dreams. Yet Graham, Sisto, and some inspired Burroughs-ian tomfoolery in the editing department make it at least as interesting as a night with Six Feet Under's Billy.
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